Goa’s Golden Jubilee

On the 50th anniversary of India’s annexation of Goa, a few existential anxieties still preoccupy the locals

01 December 2011
Portuguese prisoners of war, captured during the invasion of Goa by Indian military forces, are lined up at military barracks in Panaji on 28 December 1961.
AP PHOTO
Portuguese prisoners of war, captured during the invasion of Goa by Indian military forces, are lined up at military barracks in Panaji on 28 December 1961.
AP PHOTO

EXACTLY 50 YEARS AGO, world attention pivoted to focus on Goa and the 451-year-old Estado Português da Índia, the last remaining colonial possession on the subcontinent.

From the point of view of the Indian Union, the lingering European presence had become a prestige issue that demanded quick resolution—“just a pimple on the face of India”, in Nehru’s infelicitous phrase. Eventually, as 1961 drew to a close, the Indian prime minister had had enough. To the international press, he declared, “Continuance of Goa under Portuguese rule is an impossibility.”

But the Portuguese had no intention of budging. António de Oliveira Salazar, the arch-conservative dictator who had comfortably held power for almost three decades, was confident he could stave off an invasion by getting the US and other Western countries to back an audacious plan for NATO to set up a military and naval base of operations in Goa.

Vivek Menezes is a widely published writer and photographer

Keywords: integration military Goa annexation Indian Union Portuguese colony colonial rule British raj invasion land land use
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